According to a study conducted by a popular online personal finance resource (creditcards.com), credit card debt in certain states may be associated with splurging inspired by southern hospitality. The data indicated that nine out of the ten states with the highest amounts of credit card debt were southern states. The only state on the list of top 10 states with the highest amount of credit card debt that wasn’t in the south was New Mexico.
American Households Dealing with Debt: Nationwide Averages
According to the study, the typical American household earning $61,937 can pay down $8,407 (the average credit card balance) in a little over a year. In doing so, this hypothetical American household would pay approximately $1,005 in interest charges. When you consider this scenario from state to state, the factor that makes the most significant difference to a family’s ability to get out of debt is the income they have to work with, so states with lower median incomes see a different scenario play out.
American Households Dealing with Debt in States with Lower Median Incomes
For instance, in a state with a median income closer to $47,169 (the median income of New Mexico according to the study data), and an average household credit card balance of $8,356 (similar to the nationwide average credit card balance), the time necessary to pay off the debt is closer to 17 months (requiring 15% of income). The total interest the consumer would pay during the 17 months would total approximately $1,339. Considering the two scenarios makes it clear how huge the impact a household’s income has on their ability to pay off credit card debt.
How Are Georgia and Tennessee Dealing with Debt?
The same data put the other 9 in the Top 10 states with the highest credit card debt in the South with Georgia taking the #7 spot and Tennessee coming in just outside the Top 10 as #11. The study found the following data on Tennessee and Georgia:
- Average Credit Card Balance: Georgia ($8,738) and Tennessee ($7,996)
- Median Income: Georgia ($56,138) and Tennessee ($51,340)
- Months Necessary to Pay off Average Credit Card Debt with Median Income: Georgia and Tennessee (15 months)
- Interest Paid During the 15 Months: Georgia ($1,190) and Tennessee ($1,091)
As evident in the above numbers, Georgia and Tennessee (along with other southern states in top spots on the list) are not carrying more credit card in comparison to the average American family, but they are facing a similar amount of debt alongside a lower median income, which makes it harder (and requires more time) to pay off the debt.
Why Are So Many Southern States Taking Top Spots?
More and more Americans are using credit for purchases. Records maintained by the Federal Reserve indicate that Americans are holding a record $1.04 trillion in credit card debt. The temptation to buy now and pay later is a powerful draw, and with only about 40% of Americans bringing in enough income to pay off their credit card balance in full each month (according to research groups at creditcards.com), the other 60% are dealing with debt. In the southern states, where “southern hospitality” redefines everyday behaviors, individuals and families may find themselves turning to credit cards when their available income is limited, but must face the resulting credit card balances with the same limited income. Southern states with a lower median income and the same average credit card balance as the rest of the nation are left in a tight spot. The same “average balances” in states with a higher median income are not as impossible to manage.
If you have questions about discharging credit card debt or want to discuss filing bankruptcy, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. Most bankruptcy offices in the Chattanooga area don’t have a single Consumer Bankruptcy Specialist on staff. Our office is the only one in Chattanooga with two. You are in good hands with Kenneth C. Rannick P.C.